28th of October 2022

By Professor Jenni Romaniuk Associate Director (International) Ehrenberg-Bass Institute
By Brooke Klement Marketing Scientist Ehrenberg-Bass Institute
Published by WARC See original article

How to avoid taking a knife to a gun fight! Tips to build a strong service brand identity

Think about the last time you bought a chocolate bar, that moment you saw it on the shelf. You can probably remember how that chocolate bar looked, the colours, patterns, images on the pack, its weight in your hand before you tore open the wrapper, and its smell and taste as you put it in your mouth. All of this engagement of the senses helps refresh existing brand memories, and on occasion, build new ones.

Now compare that experience to the last time you renewed your car insurance –what happened? You received an email, letter or even text informing you it was due, pressed a few buttons on your phone or computer and then? Perhaps a vague sense of security, the mild accomplishment of a task ticked off the to-do list…but really, nothing to engage the senses, no adding to the reservoir of experiences that creates a memorable brand. This is the challenge services brands face in the battle to build brand memories.

The service sector is growing and shows no sign of abating. While the sector includes traditional service industries such as insurance or telecommunications, growth in the digital world means new services have emerged in every realm from health and fitness, education, safety/privacy, and entertainment. With the world becoming more interconnected, offering a service that can be accessed at the press of a few buttons can allow a brand to reach many more buyers all over the world. For example, Peloton can reach many more people with its fitness app than it can with its bike. Setting up stores is expensive and sending products is difficult, these activities put us at the mercy of logistics, and increase our carbon footprint. So long live growth in the services sector!

However, this servicisation of the world does have its challenges, and one such challenge is to build a strong brand identity when the primary offering is a service. Unfortunately, being a service in branding is like taking a knife to an (attention) gun fight. You have a weakened toolkit because you don’t have a physical product to show, that buyers can see, hold, or even trip over. Yes, your competitors are similarly handicapped, but it’s not just competitor brands that you fight when building brand identity. Obstacles to overcome also include environmental and mental clutter, which can render your brand a wallflower unless you find some way to stand out.

Building Distinctive Assets can help overcome service brand limitations. Here are some tips to help a service brand become a strong, distinctive brand in the minds of category buyers.

Read the full article in WARC.

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